Moto2 Inaugural Race prods Qatar

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Moto2 Riders Ready

The long-awaited debut of the Moto2 class will kick of a new era in the World Championship this weekend at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar at Losail International Circuit.

Moto2, the stepping-stone to the premier MotoGP class, was started to shed some of the expenses involved, and to create closer competition. The new class replaces the 250cc category, as teams race a less-expensive 600cc four-stroke spec-engine by Honda. All the teams will use Dunlop tires, but be able to choose from 14 different chassis providers (also, no production bike parts will be permitted for the frame, swing arm, fuel tank, seat or cowling).

An example of the money saved? For a team to lease an Aprilia RSA250 it would cost around $1.8 million. For that kind of money, Moto2 teams can run a two-rider team and also own the bikes. The less-expensive class attracted many racers, considering the 40 riders that will start on the grid for the Sunday race.

Sparking the biggest news is former MotoGP racer Toni Elias with Gresini Racing. The Spaniard broke his left hand and right ankle after crashing at the final test in Jerez last week. He’s expected to race, but will make the final decision after Friday’s practice sessions begin.

There are a handful of riders with MotoGP experience, including Alex de Angelis and Niccolo Canepa for RSM Team Scot, Roberto Rolfo for Italtrans STR, Yuki Takahashi for Tech 3 Racing, Anthony West for MZ Racing and Gabor Talmacsi for Fimmco Speed Up.

But there are also some newbies that are the talk of the class: the man fastest at the final pre-season test in Jerez, Claudio Corti for Forward Racing team; Kenny Noyes for the Jack & Jones team owned by actor Antonio Banderas; 125cc World Champion Juilian Simon for Mapfre Aspar; and Yonny Hernandez for Blusens STX.

Practice will be Friday evening, and the race will occur at 9:15 p.m. local time on Sunday, April 11, just before the premier class takes place under the floodlights at Losail. The Moto2 race will be aired on SPEED TV at 11 p.m. (EST) Sunday.